MX23RW : Sunday, August 1 22:18:49| >> :600:4275820:4275820:
Jun 11, 2021 at 6pm UK at Guangxi Sports Center
Binbin (5'), Lei (30'), Carvalho (68'), Zhang (69'), Long (79')
FT(HT: 2-0)

Samooh (90+2')

Preview: China vs. Maldives - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Friday's World Cup Qualifying - Asia clash between China and Maldives, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

China will be looking to make it three straight victories in their 2022 World Cup qualification section when they take on the Maldives at the Sharjah Stadium in the United Arab Emirates on Friday.

Li Tie's side are currently second in Group A, eight points behind runaway leaders Syria, while the Maldives occupy fourth position in the section, having picked up six points from their six matches.

Match preview

China made a strong start to their qualification campaign, recording a 5-0 win over the Maldives before putting seven unanswered goals past Guam to make it 12 goals in two fixtures in Group A.

A goalless draw with the Philippines followed in October 2019 before suffering a 2-1 loss to Syria one month later; Tie's side have picked up wins in their last two fixtures, though, putting another seven unanswered goals past Guam at the end of May before recording a 2-0 victory over the Philippines on Monday.

China will finish their Group A campaign with matches against the Maldives and Syria, but they can no longer finish first, as Syria have been in strong form, winning each of their seven fixtures in the section.

The Asian nation, who competed in the 2002 World Cup - when they were eliminated in the group stages - are six points clear of third-placed Philippines with a vastly superior goal difference, meaning that only an incredible set of circumstances would see them fail to claim second.

Maldives, meanwhile, have won two and lost four of their six World Cup qualification matches, picking up six points to occupy fourth position in the section.

The Sea have never qualified for the finals of a World Cup, so it is not a surprise to see them off the pace in this section, and they will enter this match off the back of a 4-0 loss to Syria on June 4.

Maldives did record a 3-1 home victory over Guam in November 2019, but they have not had much change out of China in their five previous meetings, losing all of them, including a 5-0 loss in the reverse fixture in this section towards the end of 2019.

Martin Koopman's side, who will finish their campaign against China and Philippines, cannot finish lower than fourth in the group but could still catch Philippines in third, and they will be looking to pull of a shock result against Tie's team in the United Arab Emirates.

China World Cup Qualifying - Asia form:
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • W

China form (all competitions):
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W

Maldives World Cup Qualifying - Asia form:
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • L

Team News

China played a midfield diamond against the Philippines last time out, with Wu Lei joined in the final third by Elkeson and that is again expected to be the case for Friday's encounter.

Hao Junmin and Ming Tian were among those to come off the bench in China's last match, but it seems likely that Tie will stick with the same XI that picked up a two-goal victory.

Former Everton youngster Tyias Browning made his debut for China against Guam at the end of last month, and the 27-year-old should make his third straight appearance for the national side in this match.

As for the Maldives, head coach Koopman opted for a 4-5-1 formation in the four-goal loss to Syria last time out, and the Dutchman is expected to resist the temptation to shuffle his pack for this match.

Ali Ashfaq, who has scored 53 goals in 79 caps for his country, was an unused substitute against Syria but should return to the starting XI for this match.

The majority of the Sea's experience comes in the final third of the field, and there could also be a spot in the side for Ali Fasir, who has found the back of the net on 11 occasions for the Maldives.

China possible starting lineup:
Yan; Tang, Zhang, Browning, Wang; Wu Xi, Jin, Wu Xinghan, Zhang; Wu Lei, Elkeson

Maldives possible starting lineup:
Faisal; Numaan, Ghanee, Ali Samooh, Aisham; Mahudhee, Nasheed, Umair, Fasir, Mohamed; Ashfaq

SM words green background

We say: China 3-0 Maldives

China have had their problems in Group A, but we are finding it very hard to predict anything other than a comfortable success for Tie's side on Friday due to the gap in quality that exists between the two teams.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data

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